A KILLEN man has reached an out-of-court settlement with global online news website, MailOnline, over an image that it published after video footage of Northern Ireland football fans chanting a sectarian song went viral.
In March this year, there was widespread condemnation of a 20-second clip filmed in a Belfast bar that showed a group of football supporters – some of whom were wearing Northern Ireland shirts – singing ‘We Hate Catholics’ to the chorus of Tiffany’s 1980s classic ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’.
Mr Rutledge was among several people from Killen to feature in the video footage, but he always strenuously denied that he had been involved in singing sectarian lyrics.
After the video quickly went viral, an unpixelated image of the Tyrone man appeared in an MailOnline article titled,
“This is utterly wrong’: Northern Ireland condemn fans after they are filmed singing ‘everybody hates Roman Catholics’ song in a bar following 2-1 win over Belarus”.
Through the long-established solicitors firm, Johnstons, Mr Rutledge subsequently issued legal proceedings against Associated Newspapers Ltd, trading as MailOnline.
Media solicitor, Laura Cunningham, said her client’s position had always been that he was not singing the sectarian lyrics, adding that this was supported by independent analysis carried out by a forensic lip-reader.
In a statement released this week, she said, “We are instructed by our client to announce that these proceedings have now been amicably resolved, with no admission of civil liability, and that the MailOnline have published the following clarification confirming that he was not singing the offensive lyrics: ‘A previous version of this article included unpixelated images of Stephen Rutledge. Mr Rutledge was not singing the sectarian lyrics and as such we have pixelated him’.”
The solicitor said that, since March this year, Mr Rutledge and his family business had been subjected to threats and harassment as a result of him being misidentified on social media by some individuals as being involved in singing sectarian lyrics.
She added, “Our client is happy that the record has now been set straight.”